The death or incapacity of a loved one is one of the most difficult times most of people will experience in their lives. At a time when grief and sorrow seem overwhelming, those left behind are often forced to make complex decision that have far reaching consequences to themselves and others. Even with a well thought out, properly drafted estate plan, there are important decisions to be made and tasks to be performed. Often things do not go as planned or plans simply fall short. In these most trying of times, it is difficult to go it alone.
What do you do when:
- You know there was a will but you can only find a copy?
- There was no will?
- The person named as executor in the will is no longer living?
- The deceased had minor children and no guardian was appointed in the will or the appointed guardian is unable to serve?
- Property was left to a minor beneficiary with no trust or other instructions as to who was to manage the property until the beneficiary comes of age?
- What if that property has to be sold? How do you do it?
- The decedent owned an interest in a business?
How do you:
- Transfer title of a car from the decedent to a beneficiary or a purchaser?
- Access the decedent’s bank accounts, safe deposit box or investment accounts?
- Transfer actual stock certificates owned by the decedent to the estate or a beneficiary?
- Value and divide personal property such as furniture, jewelry and other personal effects?
- Deal with claims of creditors?
- Value the decedent’s interest in a business?
- Transfer firearms to the named beneficiaries? There are federal and state laws that control how and to whom an executor may transfer various classes of firearms and how firearms must be secured pending distribution. Failure to follow these rules can result in criminal and civil liability.
These are just some of the issues that you may encounter when administering the estate of a deceased (or incapacitated) loved one. Small details have huge consequences. You may not want to go it alone. Stephen Stewart can help with over 25 years of experience in assisting individuals manage and distribute the estates of loved ones by offering a wide range of estate administration services, including:
- Preparation and filing of the court documents necessary to open, administer and close an estate.
- Locating and collecting assets
- Valuation of assets
- Transfer of stocks and other certificated or registered securities.
- Handling of creditors’ claims.
- Guardianships for incapacitated individuals or minors
- Special proceedings to sell real property.
- Estate and fiduciary income tax returns.